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Old 09-06-2007, 11:38 AM
 
106 posts, read 533,071 times
Reputation: 110

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I am a paralegal and our office deals with this issue all the time.

In NJ, it doesn't matter if the landlord knew it was illegal or not, or if they have registered the unit or not. All that matters is that the apartment that was rented to you violates the local zoning ordinance, and that you have PROOF from zoning that the apartment is illegal (like a copy of the violation notice).

I'm going to keep this simple, and not explain every single nuance or possibility under the sun.

1) There is no such thing as rent on an illegal apartment.

2) With that in mind, unless you paid at least one rental period worth of rent, you aren't a tenant.

3) You will NOT get any rent already paid returned to you.

What these three things together mean is that you have to have paid one rental period of rent in order to be considered a tenant. You can't move in, discover that it is an illegal apartment and stop your first months rent check. But ... after you discover that it is an illegal apartment, you do not owe any more rent.

4) The only way the landlord can evict you is through a possession action based upon the fact that it is an illegal apartment, and the only way to cure this violation is by terminating your tenancy.

5) Terminating your tenancy is a legal process, and you cannot be evicted without going through the court system. The more they screw up and the longer they take is to your benefit because you get to live rent free during this entire time.

6) The landlord owes you 6 times the rent in relocation benefits. It doesn't matter if you only paid one month of rent ... you still are entitled to 6 times the rent.

7) They must provide this to you BEFORE you can be evicted. If you got months and months of free rent, they may try to negotiate the amount with you.

8) Depending on their circumstances (i.e. if they are filing for bankruptcy, going into foreclosure, etc) this may or may not be a good idea.

9) There is one single circumstance under which the owner may be able to get out of paying you, which I am not going to blab here.

10) Your town may have a program where they pay you the relocation money and then they put a lien on the property.

11) You deposit is a separate matter, but the return of your deposit can be worked into your settlement agreement.

12) If it isn't and your deposit is not returned to you as provided by state statute, you can sue in small claims AND get double your money plus attorney fees.

13) If you damaged the unit (illegal or not), you won't get that portion of your security back BUT unpaid rent cannot be deducted from your security since there is NO SUCH THING as rent on an illegal apartment.

14) Your lease is null and void.

Do not take legal advice from the building inspector, people online, etc. Get a lawyer who specializes in Landlord/Tenant matters to handle this for you. Do not get someone who does not specialize in L/T as they will not be aware of recent case law that affects your situation.

Print out and read carefully what I have told you so that you understand the process and have a basic grasp of your rights. There is a wealth of misinformation out there on this situation. Our office sucessfully handles this exact situation at least 3 times a week, but we are not in Middlesex County.

Last edited by JCParalegal; 09-06-2007 at 11:43 AM.. Reason: spelling, lol
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Old 09-06-2007, 04:16 PM
 
106 posts, read 533,071 times
Reputation: 110
Quote:
Originally Posted by DaSkorpion View Post
======
Well first of all did you NOT know it was a basement apartment before you signed the lease.

And that matters because ..... ???? Being a basement apartment does not automatically make it illegal.

I am assuming you went and took a look before signing the lease and maybe because you've found a better place you just want to leave without being penalized.

And that matters because ..... ???? If it is truly an illegal apartment and a violation has been issued, the landlord cannot seek rent. The landlord is the one who will be penalized, not the tenant. What he did or did not find, better or worse, is not the issue.

All the information you are seeking should be in your lease terms - you should have read it all over before signing the lease.

Wrong. A lease cannot be contrary to law.

Breaking the lease might get you penalized

If the apartment is illegal, it cannot be legally rented. He needs a copy of the violation in order to back up his claim and to enforce his rights.

your lease contract should pretty much specify what steps to take if you wanted to sublet the property.

He cannot sublet an illegal apartment no matter what his lease says.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:40 PM
 
Location: High Bridge
2,738 posts, read 6,437,852 times
Reputation: 631
JC, just wanted to say - *GREAT* info. Wish there were more posts like yours - this doesn't even apply to me, but I'm glad I now know a bit more when it comes to renting
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:57 PM
 
2,541 posts, read 7,818,885 times
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Why does the landlord owe up to 6 times the rent to the tenant, if the space was not legal? There was no rent to begin with?
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Old 09-12-2007, 04:49 PM
 
2 posts, read 44,436 times
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Im in monmouth county with the same situation..except. I have only a verbal lease. is there a difference? what are my rights? what steps do they have to take to get me out..my next place isnt available until 10/21.
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Old 09-17-2007, 02:34 PM
 
106 posts, read 533,071 times
Reputation: 110
Thank you.

Quote:
Originally Posted by CuCullin View Post
JC, just wanted to say - *GREAT* info. Wish there were more posts like yours - this doesn't even apply to me, but I'm glad I now know a bit more when it comes to renting
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Old 09-17-2007, 02:57 PM
 
106 posts, read 533,071 times
Reputation: 110
People pay rent on illegal apartments, but until the day the violation is issued ... it's not officially an illegal apartment.

There needs to be some basis for the amount, and a benefit relative to the amount charged is the fairest way, IMHO.

Setting a low state-wide amount would be rather unfair to those of us who live in expensive urban areas, wouldn't it? And a high state-wide amount could be overly harsh on landlords in some situations.

Let's say the relocation benefit is a flat $500. If you live in a $1,200 Jersey City apartment, that $500 won't go very far. A broker charges a one month fee, moving companies aren't cheap, there are hook-up fees or installation fees for Comcast, Verizon, a day off from work to move, etc.

Quote:
Originally Posted by NJ Chutzpah View Post
Why does the landlord owe up to 6 times the rent to the tenant, if the space was not legal? There was no rent to begin with?
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Old 09-17-2007, 03:20 PM
 
106 posts, read 533,071 times
Reputation: 110
As far as I know, there is no difference in your rights for a verbal lease as opposed to a written one when it comes to illegal apartments.

Get a copy of the violation and bring it along with any and all notices you were given to a good landlord/tenant lawyer. Make sure the lawyer specializes in landlord/tenant law. You can get some numbers from the Monmouth County Bar Association 732-431-5544 for a small fee (perhaps $25 or so). It will save you a lot of telephoning around on your own.

They can discuss the process and explain all of your rights and options, especially if recovery is not so certain (owner-occupied, foreclosure, etc).


Quote:
Originally Posted by jennelle View Post
Im in monmouth county with the same situation..except. I have only a verbal lease. is there a difference? what are my rights? what steps do they have to take to get me out..my next place isnt available until 10/21.
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Old 09-30-2008, 10:17 AM
 
1 posts, read 37,242 times
Reputation: 12
Default Your apt

1. In the state of nj if you rent an illegal apt your landlord has to pay you 6 x's the amount of your monthly rent 5 days before you have to move regardless of how long you have lived there , also they cannot legally evict you , or charge you back rent only damages
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Old 01-08-2009, 09:52 AM
 
1 posts, read 36,923 times
Reputation: 11
Default question

Hey JC Paralegal, I am trying to write you directly, but for some reason I can't. I need to ask you a question, and it would mean the world to me and my situation if you could take a minute to respond. Thanks!
[email]americabighead@gmail.com[/email]
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